Gay Genius Alan Turing Critical to Defeat Nazi Germany

Brilliance of gay man Alan Turing Key in the defeat of nazi germany

Whenever the “Greatest Generation” is mentioned let all LGBTQ people remember Alan Turing, the greatest of them all.

by Charles McCain (c) 2012.

 

ALAN TURING: The Greatest Warrior of Them All

Copyright (c) by Charles McCain. Originally written and published on 7 June 2010 by Charles McCain and reposted by GayPolitics.com. 

In 1952, the man who discovered the Ultra Secret was convicted of “charges of committing acts of gross indecency with another man.” The defendant was a rumpled Cambridge mathematics professor who had done something important in the war. Still did a bit of secret work for the government. He looked a regular sort of chap but he wasn’t – he was a poof, a Nancy boy, a queer.

The judge gave him two choices: prison or chemical castration through the injection of female hormones. This to one of the handful of men responsible for Allied victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two – a man whose ideas changed our world. He chose the humiliation of being injected with estrogen – the doses so high he developed breasts.

Upon conviction, his security clearance was revoked by the British Government and he was dismissed. Men, straight men – the ones who ran the intelligence establishment – were happy to see him go, no doubt. Don’t need that sort around. Did something very hush-hush during the war. Not sure what exactly. Good riddance to bad trash.

Alan Turing

But they couldn’t let this man just wander off. He knew too much – about what, no one actually knew. What this man had done in the war was so beyond ‘top secret’ the British government had created a fourth level of secrecy. Prime Minister Winston Churchill is thought to have said, “this is so secret it must ever be the Ultra Secret.” And Ultra it became, the very highest level of security in Great Britain. Only a very few men in the world knew the entire scope of this mind-boggling secret. Alan Turing was one of those men.

Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of all Allied Forces in Europe, considered the Ultra Secret, “decisive” to our victory over Nazi Germany. Yet only a few of his subordinates ever saw intelligence from Ultra and while they knew it was absolutely reliable they had no idea where it came from. It was so secret, so critical to victory, we still don’t know the lengths to which the Allies went to protect it.

Did we assassinate men and women in German-occupied Europe who may have known one small detail of the Ultra-Secret? Most certainly. Mount hundreds of military operations to protect the secret by deceiving the Germans as to the origin of our intelligence? Yes.

Did our most senior political and military leaders lie, violate the ‘rules of war’, deceive our own commanders,  authorize the pilfering and reading of diplomatic mail, order the death of anyone who may have been able to tell the Germans we knew the secret? Yes. Do we know the details? No, they have never been released to this day. The only thing we know for certain is this: the Allies did everything and went to every length to protect the Ultra-Secret uncovered by Alan Turing.

Alan Turning MemorialAfter Turing had his security clearance revoked, MI5, the British Internal Security agency, as ignorant as they were small-minded, watched him constantly because he knew the Ultra-Secret – although they didn’t use that term since the designation of Ultra was itself Ultra Secret. They trailed him, harassed him, treated him with the worst kind of contempt – because he was a fruit, a homo, a faggot. Treated him so badly, in fact, that in March of 2009, just over one year ago, then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an official apology on behalf of the British Government for the way Alan Turing had been treated simply because he was gay.

Unfortunately, Her Majesty’s Government was fifty-five years too late. On 7 June 1954, police reported that a Cambridge mathematics professor named Alan Turing had committed suicide by biting into an apple laced with cyanide. Was he so depressed he committed suicide? His mother and his brother said no nor did they ever accept the explanation given by the police. So the speculation continues: did he kill himself or was he killed? If so, who killed him?

In 1974 the British government authorized the publication of a book simply titled The Ultra Secret. What the book revealed was so shocking, so incredible, so unimaginable it changed everything we knew about the Second World War. And what it revealed was this: during World War Two the British, and later the Americans, read almost 90% of all top secret German radio traffic – and the Germans used radio as their primary method of communication.

Because of gay activists in London, we also learned something else: the key player in the Ultra Secret was a gay man named Alan Turing.

Enigma MachineAnd this is how it helped us: “During the great campaigns on land or in desperate phases of the war at sea, exact and utterly reliable information could thus be conveyed, regularly and often instantly, mint-fresh, to the Allied commanders.” wrote historian Ronald Lewin in Ultra Goes To War.

Often we decrypted Ultra messages as fast as the Germans did. And what did we learn? Almost everything: battle plans, dates of attack, the position of every ship, plane, U-Boat, soldier – we knew almost all. And we knew it all because of a homosexual named Alan Turing.

To prevent anyone from understanding the secret information they were broadcasting, the German armed forces used a coding machine so complex the British called it the Enigma. It was unbreakable. Completely and totally secure. Only it wasn’t. Why? Because in one of his many flashes of genius, mathematician Alan Turing, who was working for the British military, figured out how to crack messages coded by the Enigma.

There was a small hitch. In order to perform the actions required to crack the Enigma, Turing had to invent a machine of some sort – a machine which had never existed before. The Oxford Companion to World War Two gives this bland explanation: “Turing, Alan (1912-1954). British mathematician whose theories and work … resulted in the modern computer.”

Today, the ‘Nobel Prize’ of the computing world is the Turing Award—so named to honor Alan Turing as the father of the computer age. It is awarded annually by the Association of Computer Manufacturers and carries a prize of $1 million dollars.

He changed the world. Yet few gay men or gay women know of him.

Turing worked for the British military and naturally had clearance for Ultra since he created it. Yet even with Turing on our side, even knowing all we did, it still required the combined might of the three strongest nations in the world – Great Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union – to defeat Nazi Germany.

What if we hadn’t known as much as we did? What if Alan Turing hadn’t cracked the Enigma, invented the computer, and given us the Ultra-Secret? What if the British military had not hired Turing because of his homosexuality? The alternative is unthinkable.

Somehow gay people are left out when the ‘Greatest Generation’ is honored. Let us therefore insist, beginning from this very moment, that whenever the ‘Greatest Generation’ is remembered, we remember Alan Turing, the greatest of them all.

You can read more about Alan Turing on the BBC here:      BBCAlanTuring

 

[This article first appeared on 7 June 2010 before the repeal of DADT on GayPolitics.com 

[Editor’s note from GayPolitics.com: In light of the ongoing debate over whether openly gay people should be able to serve in the U.S. armed forces, it’s worth remembering that gay people already serve with distinction, and that some of those discharged for being gay may have taken with them extraordinary skills or talents necessary for success in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Author Charles McCain, a World War II expert guest posting here, contributes the following commentary about one such hero, whose incalculable contribution to the Allied effort to defeat Hitler’s Germany is not widely known.]

Images courtesy of TechFest–AV Techonology Blog, and Wikipedia. More information can be found at Alan Turning’s biographer’s website at http://www.turing.org.uk/turing/

Author, financial writer, historian, and speaker, Charles McCain, is an authority on World War Two. As a proud gay man, he often speaks and writes about Alan Turing’s incredible contribution to Allied victory. He is the author of An Honorable German, a World War Two naval epic published by GCP/Hachette in 2009.

Minefield. You are in it. We are not.

Important to stay up to date on Notices to Mariners in World War Two so you don’t stray into a minefield

hms_highlanderh44

   Aerial photograph of British destroyer HMS Highlander (H44) underway. Rayner spent a number of months as her CO.

D.A. Rayner was an officer in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve during World War Two. They wore wavy stripes on their uniforms and were called, with condescension, the “the Wavy Navy”. There was also the Royal Naval Reserve consisting of masters and mates of merchant ships. It was said that the RNVR were gentlemen trying to become officers and the RNR were officers trying to become gentlemen.


Royal Navy corvette HMS Primrose

although not designed to operate in the vicious weather of the North Atlantic these ships could be built quickly. Convoy escorts were desperately needed so hundreds were built. 

 

Rayner compiled an outstanding record in World War Two becoming the only RNVR officer to command a Royal Navy escort group in the Atlantic. His memoir, Escort, is rich in stories of his life at sea in the war, each one more amusing than the one before. Escort is one of the best naval memoirs I have ever read. It is beautifully written (the English really know how to write English), funny, very sad at times, and brutally honest. I certainly give it five stars. Escort is truly a must read.

The war has only recently begun and Rayner is commanding an anti-submarine trawler patrolling off the coast of England. He is lost in a dense fog. There was no radar then. Out of the fog looms a Royal Navy destroyer. Rayner orders the signalman to use his Aldis Lamp (Morse Lamp to Americans) and make to the destroyer: “Can you tell me where am I?” Comes the reply: “Regret have not known you long enough to venture an opinion.” Rayner is puzzled till he discovers the signalman had actually made the message: “Can you tell me what I am?”

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Though only 30, Rayner is quickly given command of a corvette, a small escort vessel used in the North Atlantic. Because of the shortage of escort ships, he has been compelled to put to sea before his charts are up to date. As he is putting into port one day, Rayner sees a merchantman sinking off his starboard bow. He asks the escort commander for leave to rescue the crew. Comes the reply, “Proceed, but your attention is called to Notices to Mariners Number______.”

Rayner rescues a boatload of survivors and sees another boatload. Comes a signal from the escort commander, “Your attention is called to Notices to Mariners_____.” This annoys Rayner but given his charts aren’t up to date, he doesn’t want to ask the escort commander what he means so he waits until another corvette steams between him and the escort commander. Rayner makes inquiry of what Notices to Mariners_____means. Comes the reply, “Minefield. You are in it. We are not.”

“Anyone can do the little job of directing operations in war.”

“I am the greatest warlord of all time.” – Adolf Hitler

NOT EXACTLY:

“German men and women! The High Command of the armed forces has today… declared the unconditional surrender of all German fighting troops.”

Foreign Minister of the Dönitz government, Schwerin von Krosigk, In a broadcast to the German people on German national radio on the afternoon of 7 may 1945.

as quoted by the New York Times

 

Hitler [above far right] attained the rank of gefreiter in the First World War (1914-1918). This is equivalent to the rank of private first class in the US Army or lance corporal in the US Marines or British Army. 

(He grew up in Linz in what had been the Bohemian area of the Austrian Empire. This led Herr General Fieldmarshal von Rundstedt to refer to him as that “Bohemian corporal.”)

“Anyone can do the little job of directing operations in war.” Hitler to Colonel-General Halder, Chief of the German General Staff in December 1941 after the resignation of Field Marshal Walter von Brauchitsch (1881-1948) as Commander-in-Chief of the German Army (1938-1941).

Instead of appointing a professional soldier, Hitler appointed himself, thus assuming operational command of the German Army. Given that he was already Head of the Nazi Party, Chief of State, Minister of Defense, and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, this new responsibility put him in the position of giving orders to himself.

This would be as if President Franklin Roosevelt, who held the office of President of the United States and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed forces, had also assumed the roles of Secretary of War and Secretary of the Navy, Chief of Staff of the US Army and Airforce and Chief of Naval Operations, Commander in Chief of Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet, and Commander in Chief of the Southwest Pacific Theater.

Herr Colonel-General Halder, only man to hold Nazi Germany’s Knights Cross & the US Meritorious Civilian Service Award

“Incredible as it may sound, Hitler did not even have a general plan for the war.” – Colonel General Franz Halder, Chief of the German Army General Staff until dismissed by Hitler in September of 1942.

After the war, Halder worked for the US Army Historical Branch for 15 years and in 1961 received the US Meritorious Civilian Service Award from President Kennedy, thus becoming the only man in history to hold this award and the Knights Cross.

Nazi Saboteurs Landed In America by German U-boats

German uboats touched american soil three times during world war two

nytsaboteurs

In reality, the leader of the group, George Dasch, turned all of them into the FBI. laimed all the credit but only when Dasch called the FBI did they have any idea German saboteurs were in the country.

In spite of many tall tales, German U-boats only touched American soil three times and they didn’t stay very long. Approaching an enemy coast to land agents was extremely dangerous since the boat had to go into shallow water and close an enemy coast with no intelligence.

Since the only real protection a U-Boat had was going deep underwater, being in shallow water made this impossible. Officers and crewmen intensely disliked missions such as this because it put them in such danger.

Over the years, dozens of people have told me how they had heard about German U-Boat coming ashore in the US to shop, go to the movies, have a beer, you name it. Absolutely none of these stories are true. A work colleague many years ago told me UBoat men used to come ashore for an evening of dinner, drinks, and dancing in Palm Beach. His grandfather met many of them. This is impossible but stories like this abound.

I have asked the two top U-Boat historians in the world Jak P Mallman-Showell and Dr. Timothy Mulligan if any of these stories are true and they both said, “no.” And gave me permission to quote them.

 

NEW YORK TIMES 10 December 1945

Aircraft and many other key armaments, relied on aluminum. As rugged as they seem, you could punch a sharpened pencil through the side of a B-17. Aluminum production in the US skyrocketed during the war.  Because it is difficult to make and requires huge amounts of electricity, there are many points in the production cycle which a saboteur could disrupt.